Fed. Deposit Ins., Corp. v. Fbop Corp., Case No. 14 CV 4307

CourtUnited States District Courts. 7th Circuit. United States District Court (Northern District of Illinois)
Writing for the CourtJudge Thomas M. Durkin
PartiesFEDERAL DEPOSIT INSURANCE, CORPORATION, as a separate and distinct Receiver of Bank USA, N.A., California National Bank, Citizens National, Bank of Teague, Madisonville State Bank, North, Houston Bank, Pacific National Bank, Park National Bank, and San Diego National Bank, PLAINTIFF, v. FBOP CORPORATION, et al., DEFENDANTS. PENSION BENEFIT GUARANTY CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF-INTERVENOR, v. FBOP CORPORATION, et al., DEFENDANTS.
Docket NumberCase No. 14 CV 4307
Decision Date27 November 2017

Judge Thomas M. Durkin


This litigation involves a dispute over more than $265.3 million in tax refunds currently being held in escrow ("the Escrowed Tax Refunds"). The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation ("FDIC") claims entitlement to the tax refunds by virtue of its appointment as the separate receiver for each of eight failed banks ("the Banks"). Defendant FBOP Corporation ("FBOP") is the parent company of the Banks, and received the refunds from the Internal Revenue Service ("IRS") as the appointed agent for a consolidated tax group consisting of itself and its subsidiary corporations (the Banks and approximately 80 non-banking subsidiaries). FBOP assigned whatever interest it had in the Escrowed Tax Refunds to the Trustee of the FBOP Corporation Trust Agreement and Assignment for the Benefit of Creditors (the "Trustee"). FBOP and the Trustee (collectively the "FBOP Defendants") claim ownership of the Escrowed Tax Refunds pursuant to an agreement between FBOP and the Banks concerning the allocation of tax liabilities. The Court refers to its Memorandum Opinion and Order entered May 12, 2017 for further background concerning the dispute between the FDIC and the FBOP Defendants over ownership of the Escrowed Tax Refunds, and this Court's resolution of the FDIC's and the FBOP Defendants' cross-motions for judgment on the pleadings as to that dispute. See R. 205 (Fed. Deposit Ins. Corp. v. FBOP Corp., 252 F. Supp. 3d 664 (N.D. Ill. 2017)).

Presently before the Court are the claims of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation ("PBGC") against the FBOP Defendants set forth in PBGC's Intervention Complaint (R. 51). The FBOP Defendants have filed a Rule 12(c) motion for judgment on the pleadings in their favor on PBGC's intervention claims. See R. 225. For the reasons that follow, the Court denies the FBOP Defendants' Rule 12(c) motion.


Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(c) permits a party to move for judgment on the pleadings. Buchanan-Moore v. Cnty. of Milwaukee, 570 F.3d 824, 827 (7th Cir. 2009). The pleadings "consist of the complaint, the answer, and any written instruments attached as exhibits." Housing Auth. Risk Retention Group, Inc. v. Chi. Hous. Auth., 378 F.3d 596, 600 (7th Cir. 2004). The primary function of a Rule 12(c) motion is to "dispos[e] of cases on the basis of the underlying substantive merits of the parties' claims and defenses as they are revealed in the formal pleadings." Wright & Miller, FEDERAL PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE, § 1367 (3d ed.) (citing Alexander v. City of Chicago, 994 F.2d 333 (7th Cir. 1993)). "A motion for judgment on the pleadings under Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure is governed by the same standards as a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim under Rule 12(b)(6)." BBL, Inc. v. City of Angola, 809 F.3d 317, 325 (7th Cir. 2015). The court must take all well-pleaded allegations in the plaintiff's pleadings to be true, and view the facts and inferences to be drawn from those allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. In addition, the court must consider only the content of the competing pleadings, exhibits thereto, matters incorporated by reference in the pleadings, and any facts of which a district court can take judicial notice. See Wright & Miller, FEDERAL PRACTICE supra, § 1367. The court cannot consider matters outside these areas without converting the motion into one for summary judgment. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(d); Omega Healthcare Investors, Inc. v. Res-Care, Inc., 475 F.3d 853, 856 n.3 (7th Cir. 2007). A Rule 12(c) motion isappropriate only when "it is clear that the merits of the controversy can be fairly and fully decided in this summary manner." Wright & Miller, FEDERAL PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE, § 1369 (3d ed.). If it appears that discovery is necessary to fairly resolve a claim on the merits, then the motion for judgment on the pleadings should be denied. Id.


The following facts, construed in the light most favorable to PBGC, are from the pleadings and exhibits thereto in the present case, as well as court documents in two related casesFBOP Corp. v. Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., Case No. 11-cv-2782 (N.D. Ill.), filed Apr. 26, 2011, and Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. v. FBOP Corp., Case No. 11-cv-2788 (N.D. Ill.), filed Apr. 27, 2011—of which this Court takes judicial notice.1


PBGC is a wholly owned United States government corporation, which administers the pension insurance program established by Title IV of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, as amended ("ERISA"). See 29 U.S.C. §§ 1301-1461. When an underfunded pension plan terminates without sufficient assets to pay all promised benefits, PBGC generally becomes the plan's trustee and pays statutorily guaranteed pension benefits to plan participants and beneficiaries. See 29 U.S.C. §§ 1302(a)(2), 1321, 1322, 1344. When PBGC determines that itspossible long-run loss "may reasonably be expected to increase unreasonably" if the plan is not terminated, or if the plan will not be able to pay benefits when due, PBGC is statutorily authorized to initiate termination of a pension plan. See 29 U.S.C. § 1342. If PBGC decides to terminate a plan under § 1342 and the plan administrator disagrees with that decision, ERISA authorizes PBGC to apply for a judicial decree that the plan must be terminated. See 29 U.S.C. § 1342(c). If the court enters such a decree, it also sets a termination date, see 29 U.S.C. § 1348(a)(4), and appoints PBGC as statutory trustee under §§ 1342 and 1348. After a plan is terminated, PBGC makes a final assessment of liability. See 29 C.F.R. §§ 4003.1(b)(9), 4068.3. This determination of liability is generally appealable to the agency's Appeal Board, 29 C.F.R. § 4003.1(a), but when PBGC believes that its "ability to assert or obtain payment of liability is in jeopardy," it may issue a demand immediately upon making its liability determination, without providing for appeal rights, 29 C.F.R. § 4068.3(c).

PBGC, as a federal agency, also has a right to offset debts owed to it by plan sponsors or controlled group members2 against amounts that any other federal agency, including the IRS, owe to the plan sponsors or controlled group members.3 PBGC's setoff rights are established by regulations, which provide a mandatoryperiod to allow the plan sponsor or controlled group member a period of time in which to contest the offset. See 29 C.F.R § 4903.


FBOP was the contributing sponsor and plan administrator of the FBOP Corporation Pension Plan ("the Plan"), a defined-benefit pension plan under ERISA. The Plan provides pension benefits to approximately 2,589 current or former FBOP employees and their beneficiaries, the large majority of which were employees of the Banks. In October 2009, banking regulatory authorities closed the Banks and appointed the FDIC as their respective receivers, at which time FBOP employees associated with the Banks were terminated. The Banks constituted the majority of FBOP's assets, and, after their seizure, FBOP began the process of liquidating its remaining assets.

After the FDIC assumed control over the Banks, PBGC determined that the Plan would be unable to pay benefits when due and that PBGC's long-run loss with respect to the Plan could reasonably be expected to increase unreasonably unless the Plan was terminated. Around the same time, FBOP informed PBGC that it anticipated receiving an estimated $200 million federal tax refund in June 2011. As a result, on April 21, 2011, PBGC issued a Notice of Determination ("Notice") that the Plan should be terminated under 29 U.S.C. § 1342(a) and (c). That same day, PBGC sent FBOP the Notice along with a letter demanding payment by April 26,2011 of the Plan's "unfunded benefit liabilities,"4 then estimated at $56,650,211 (the "Demand Letter"). Further, by letter dated April 26, 2011, PBGC sent notice to FBOP of the agency's intention by June 25, 2011 to set off the amount of the unfunded benefit liabilities against FBOP's anticipated $200 million income tax refund ("the Setoff Notice"). PBGC explained that it issued the Demand Letter and Setoff Notice before the Plan was terminated because it believed time was of the essence, based on FBOP's indication that it expected to receive the $200 million tax refund in a matter of months.


On April 25, 2011, FBOP informed PBGC that it was unwilling to agree to terminate the Plan. PBGC responded that, if FBOP did not agree by the April 26 deadline, PBGC would seek a district court decree terminating the Plan pursuant to 29 U.S.C. § 1342(c)(1). The next day, FBOP filed an action in this district seeking a declaratory judgment that PBGC incorrectly calculated that the Plan assets were not sufficient to pay benefits and incorrectly determined that FBOP had abandoned the Plan, and further seeking a court order to protect FBOP from PBGC's involuntary termination of the Plan. See FBOP Corp. v. Pension Benefit Guar.Corp., Case No. 11-cv-2782, Dkt. #1 (N.D. Ill.) (hereinafter the "Declaratory Judgment Action"). The following day, on April 27, 2011, PBGC filed an action in this district under 29 U.S.C. § 1342(c) and 1348(a) seeking an order: (1) terminating the Plan; (2) appointing PBGC as statutory trustee of the Plan; and (3) establishing April 21,...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT